Australian Dictionary of Biography

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James Ogilvie (1795–1828)

by G. T. Stilwell

This article was published:

James Ogilvie (1795?-1828), wine merchant, was 'a native of Banff, North Britain, of very respectable connexions, and no small pretensions to gentility'. He arrived at Hobart Town with his wife and family in the Britomart on 4 February 1822, bringing a letter of recommendation from Downing Street and some £1500 in goods and cash. Within a month he opened a shop at Harrington Street, Hobart, largely stocked with the merchandise he had imported. On 3 February 1823 he was elected to the committee for establishing a Presbyterian church in Hobart with Rev. Archibald Macarthur as its minister. He was an original shareholder in the Bank of Van Diemen's Land and signed the petition to the British government requesting that Lieutenant-Governor William Sorell remain in office.

Ogilvie established the Derwent brewery before September 1823. Either it proved unsuccessful or he got into financial difficulty, for it was mortgaged to Robert Lathrop Murray before being sold to Peter Dudgeon and Frederick Bell on 2 January 1826. About 1823 Ogilvie built the British Hotel and Brandy (later Wine) Vaults in Liverpool Street, where he claimed that his goods were cheaper than elsewhere in town. Nevertheless he was soon eager to retire from the hotel trade. In January 1826 he offered the building to the government for offices; when rejected he renovated the premises and leased them in October to John Martin. He also had country property. In consideration of his assets he had been granted 1000 acres (405 ha) in the Hollow Tree district near Bothwell, but in 1823 tried to exchange this grant for land nearer town. He must have sold it soon afterwards, for in 1829 his widow was refused a second grant because he had got rid of his first one too quickly and with too little improvement. Ogilvie also owned a property, Eden, on the Big (Ouse) River. At his death his assets included the British Hotel and a 100-acre (40 ha) farm at Pittwater.

James Ogilvie died at his residence in Liverpool Street on 11 May 1828. His obituary in the Hobart Town Courier eulogized his private and public virtues and summed up his qualities: 'In short, he was a good member of society, and a worthy example of persevering industry'.

Ogilvie's widow Eliza first lived with and later married James Thomson, a convict builder and architect. On her second marriage certificate the additional Christian name Fordyce may have been her maiden name. It was doubtless Ogilvie's money which started Thomson on his prosperous career. In 1843-44 Thomson and his stepson Thomas Ogilvie were joint licensees of the British Hotel. Of Ogilvie's daughters, Eliza Ann married William Henry Windsor (1821?-1889), later under-treasurer of Tasmania, and Mary Grant married James Goodall Francis (1819-1884), sometime premier of Victoria. Eliza died in Liverpool Street, Hobart, on 5 December 1852, aged 51.

Select Bibliography

  • correspondence files under James Ogilvie and James Goodall Francis (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

G. T. Stilwell, 'Ogilvie, James (1795–1828)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 14 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (Melbourne University Press), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]




11 May, 1828 (aged ~ 33)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

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